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SOUTH SALT LAKE — After months of delays, the newest men’s resource center has opened its doors in South Salt Lake. Homeless advocates say hundreds of people will be moved into the new shelter over the course of this week.
Some advocates, who wanted to remain anonymous, told KSL Newsradio that people moving into the new 300-bed facility seem excited about the new building. They say there’s a lot more space and more light compared to The Road Home in downtown.
Shelter officials say they’ve just recently completed some of the final “finishing touches” inside the new center. The original plan was for the center to open at the end of June. However, officials say there were hurdles in securing the conditional use permit before construction could begin.
Also, Preston Cochrane with the homeless advocacy group Shelter the Homeless says they had to make some offsite improvements that weren’t necessary for the other two centers.
“We had to put in new roads, new sidewalks and new streetlights,” Cochrane said.
In recent weeks, the center has received a lot of criticism over whether it’s big enough to handle the demand. Some critics say there have been as many as 400 people staying at The Road Home as the valley has moved closer to the winter months.
Cochrane said it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly how many men will need shelter in the new center.
“We treat it on a day-by-day basis,” he said. “The numbers fluctuate, constantly, and you can’t just take a look at one day and take a snapshot of that.”
He adds, “I’m sure there were probably a few nights where (The Road Home was) over the 300-bed capacity. The overflow shelter at St. Vincent de Paul has been open and will remain open until April 15th.”
Cochrane hopes to reassure people that even if there are too many people needing to stay at the new center, they will find a place for people to stay so no one will have to sleep in the cold.
“It may be a temporary lodging or shelter option, whether that’s a motel, a hotel or permanent housing,” Cochrane says.